Lessons from the Dutch

BIke and Car/Sandra Shapiro Jay Walljasper reports in?Yes! Magazine on his September fact-finding trip with San Francisco traffic engineers, elected officials, businessmen to the Netherlands to see how American cities might encourage more bicycle use. He concludes that we can do it, but it will take a very serious effort.

We’ve got to start early, with bicycle education and use in the early school years.

We also need to make cyclists feel safe: “physical separation from motorized traffic on busy streets is the single most effective policy for getting more people to bike.”

Walljasper was encouraged to see progress in Rotterdam, where bicycling accounts for 22 percent of trips on the American-looking streets (created after World War II’s destruction).?Simply adding color to bike lanes was, in some cases, helpful. (Cycling is even more popular in other big cities, such as Amsterdam.)

He notes that “it took the Dutch 35 years to construct the ambitious bicycle system we were enjoying. … While the country?s wealth, population, and levels of car ownership have continued to grow through the decades, the share of trips made by cars has not. We could accomplish something similar in the United States by enacting new plans to make urban cycling safer, easier, and more convenient? and ultimately, mainstream.”

Read the whole article and watch the trailer below for Riding Bikes With the Dutch, in which filmmaker Michael W. Bauch chronicles his family?s adventure swapping homes with a family in Amsterdam.

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